2011 Jaguar XKR First Impressions Review

Expert Reviews Jaguar

By contributing editor David Colman


  • Drop dead beautiful
  • 510 horsepower raring to go
  • Keeps driver involvement on full boil


  • Hair trigger in the rain
  • Questionable reliability
  • Five grand extra for 20 inch wheels

The “R” version of the XK is the first fully worthy successor to the legendary XKE that Jaguar has produced in the 40 years that have elapsed since the demise of the original model. After the XKE earned worldwide acclaim it became known as the E-Type. The XKR is already good enough to be designated R-Type. The same design and performance elements that elevated the XKE to icon status are all present in the 2011 R-Type: unsurpassed visual beauty allied with stellar speed potential.

2011 Jaguar XKR Black Pack

The original E-Type stunned the sports car world because its top speed was 150mph. The R-Type is good for just 5mph more than that, but it will reach that speed so much more quickly than its predecessor that you need to be very careful how you apply its throttle. With 510hp on tap, the XKR is capable of spinning its rear wheels if you injudiciously stomp the gas. Even though various traction control systems muster protection against blatant stupidity, this Jaguar demands concentration and respect from its driver. In the same sense that the original XKE was a driver’s car back in its heyday, the XKR provides a similarly engaging driving experience today.

The R-Type hews to the classic sports car formula, with its 5 liter supercharged V8 located up front, a 6-speed gearbox driving just the rear wheels, and a close-coupled cockpit designed to cater to no more than 2 occupants. The sweeping roofline and reduced height side windows assist anonymity but complicate outward vision.

2011 Jaguar XKR interior

The park assist is a welcome boon when backing up into a parking slot. Because the nearly flat rear window retains rain drops, a rear wiper should be a standard feature. The demisting system is superior, clearing all interior glass surfaces of fogging in mere seconds. With the exception of the missing rear wiper, the R-Type is a surprisingly good all weather vehicle, with exclellent traction from optional 20 inch Dunlop Sport Maxx SP/J tires measuring 265/40R20 up front and 285/30R20 in back.

The J designator indicates Dunlop constructed this tire specifically for use on the XKR. Standard wheel fitment is the 19 inch “Tamana” wheel, with the 20 inch “Kalimnos” wheel (replete with fussy rim bolts) – a $5,000 upgrade.

2011 Jaguar XKR aluminum alloy wheel

The original E-Type was a fairly hard riding sports car. If you wanted to adjust ride quality, you changed shock absorbers – an all day job. The R-Type does all that for you, with the flick of a console-mounted switch marked with a checkered flag. Depress that switch and you convert the Adaptive Dynamics from comfort to sport. The ride stiffens and the big Jag is ready to tackle any backroad. If you’re feeling particularly witty, you can push the DSC button for 10 seconds to delete traction control completely. Warning: do this and you’re on your own when those 510 ponies kick in at the slippery apex of a tight switchback. Or leave all the driver aids fully activated, and cruise the R-Type as fast or as slow as you want. It will follow your instructions verbatim. This Jag is a true driver’s car. It encourages you to dial in exactly the amount of involvement you wish to enjoy, and then complies specifically and fully with your directive.

2011 Jaguar XKR


  • ENGINE: 5.0 liter aluminum alloy V8
  • HORSEPOWER: 510 hp @ 6000-6500 rpm
  • TORQUE: 461 lb-ft @ 2500-5500 rpm
  • TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic
  • FUEL CONSUMPTION: 15 mpg city/ 22 mpg hwy
  • FORCED INDUCTION: Eaton Roots supercharger
  • PRICE AS TESTED: $102,475


David Colman has been writing vehicle tests for 24 years. His work has been featured in AutoWeek, the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner, and Marin Independent Journal. In 1987, he helped start Excellence, The Magazine About Porsche, which he edited for many years. He has been an active participant in racing and Solo events since 1961. More car reviews written by Colman can be found at autoeditor.com

2011 Jaguar XKR Photo Gallery

Jaguar XKR

2011 Jaguar XKR Specs

JaguarThe official worldwide website of Jaguar Cars – www.jaguar.com

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  • Don B says:

    My 2011 XKR Convertible is the best car I ever owned. It blows away my Mercedes SL.

  • deja_view says:

    I own a first year XK8 convertible and I love it. I’m seriously looking at moving up to an XKR, but not past 2003 or 2004. After that the body modifications ruin the gorgeous clean lines that brought Jag back from the dead. Way too much tacked on “spoilage”. 400 hp was plenty. The maniacle race for horsepower and bigger wagon wheels doesn’t make the newer Jags…or any of the sports cars…any better.

  • Twain says:

    The XKR has to be the sleeper of the past few years. It is simply stunning to behold and has incredible performance. It is essentially an Aston Martin for a fraction of the price. It’s the sports car for grown ups.
    I honestly think Jaguar is one of the most under-rated brands out there.

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